Nightshade Page 74

His brow furrowed; he lifted the blanket to his nose, taking a deep breath. I jumped to my feet when his eyes suddenly shut and he stumbled backward with a gasp.

“Shay?” I took his arm. “What is it?”

“I . . .” His voice was thick. “I remember . . . I can see her face. I remember her laughing.”

“Oh, Shay,” I murmured, drawing him toward me.

His eyes opened, full of memories. “It can’t be real.”

“Yes, it can,” I said. “Scent and memory are completely tied up in each other. Your Guardian senses unlocked the memories for you.”

He was frowning. “Maybe.”

“Did it feel real?” I pressed. “Familiar?”

“More than anything,” he said.

“Then it’s your mother.”

He twisted the blanket in his hands. “Wait a sec . . . no, no way.”


He grabbed my hand, pulling me back down the hall.

“What?” I asked as he dragged me at a run back to the broad landing in the main hall.

He didn’t answer, stopping in front of the tall wooden door that led to the library. He drew something that looked like a Swiss army knife from his jeans pocket and fiddled with the lock. I heard a click and the door swung open.

He didn’t say anything as he strode into the room. I followed hesitantly while my eyes took in the library. It was easily the largest room I’d ever seen outside of our school’s gymnasium. The library rose through the second and third stories of the mansion. Three of the walls featured built-in shelves that stretched from floor to ceiling. A spiraling wrought-iron staircase on each wall led to balconies that ringed the upper tier of bookshelves. I’d never seen so many books. No wonder Shay had been dying to get in here. Beautiful and terrifying, the library seemed too perfect to be safe, like a carnivorous plant that used vivid blossoms to snare insects.

“This is amazing,” I breathed.

Shay was staring at the outside wall. It was the only part of the library not filled with books. Tall, stained glass windows framed an immense fireplace that was large enough for two men to stand inside it. I followed Shay’s gaze to a portrait that hung above the mantel.

Unlike the grotesque paintings that lined Rowan Estate’s hallways, this portrait appeared more traditional, though its occupants’ expressions were sober to the point of severity. A woman in a simple white dress sat in a chair. Her hair, the color of dark chocolate, spilled over one shoulder; her pale green eyes seemed to brim with tears. A man stood behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders. His face was stern but also terribly sad and was framed by softly waving golden brown hair that brushed his jawline.

Even though I stared at strangers, the portrait brought a lump to my throat. I’d never seen faces so filled with grief. I came to stand beside Shay.

“Why wouldn’t he tell me?” he murmured.

“Why wouldn’t who tell you what?”

“My uncle.” He tore his eyes from the portrait. “That’s my mother . . . and I think my father too.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Are you sure?”

“If you’re sure that my sense of smell triggered a real memory,” he said. “That is the woman I saw when I smelled the blanket.”

“But Bosque didn’t let you keep any pictures of them,” I said.

“Exactly. So why would he be keeping a portrait of them in his library?” he said. “And why wouldn’t he want me to see it?”

“Maybe he was afraid you’d remember something if you saw pictures of your parents. Do you? Now that you’ve seen this painting?”

Shay looked at the portrait again. “No.”

I reached for his hand. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know.” He stroked his thumb over my palm. “It would help if something in my life made sense.”

I squeezed his fingers. “I get that.” We’d both turned over too many stones, revealing ugly secrets squirming beneath. “So now what?”

“Now we do what we came here for in the first place,” he said.



I glanced at the multi-storied bookshelves. “Any ideas about where to begin? Or if your uncle has a card catalog?”

“Well, that wouldn’t offer much of a challenge, would it?” he quipped.

“I guess I’ll just start browsing,” I said, ignoring his taunting eyes.

He smiled wickedly. “There is one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“A locked bookcase.”

“Sounds promising. Have you checked it out before?”

He blushed, rubbing the back of his neck. “As much as I hate to admit it, I felt a little guilty about breaking into Bosque’s library. I thought leaving that bookcase alone made up for it . . . kind of. Karmic compromise.”

“You are a strange boy,” I muttered.

“That’s why you like me.” He flashed a grin and walked across the room.

The carved mahogany bookcase stood in the corner next to the outside wall alongside a tall, quietly ticking grandfather clock. Shay picked the lock and opened the case. It was filled with six shelves of black leather-bound volumes. He pulled a book from the top shelf.

“It’s all handwritten. Like a journal.”

“Does it have a title?”

He flipped to the front page. “Haldis Annals.”

The title was familiar, and I had the feeling that these books weren’t what we needed.

“And there are dates,” he continued. “1900 to 1905.”

I drew a volume from a lower shelf. “This book is dated 1945 to 1950.”

I began to read, confirming my suspicions. It was a genealogy. The complete history of Guardian packs.

“I don’t get it.” Shay was frowning. “It’s a list of names, almost like a family tree. And there are notes about the family members.”

“This isn’t going to help us.” I shut the book, putting it back on the shelf. “We should focus on the other books in the library.”

He looked at me, startled. “What are you talking about?”

“These books aren’t about the Haldis we’re looking for,” I said.

“What are they about?”

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